Thursday, March 31, 2011

20 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody - Rally 15 April

From Deaths in Custody Watch Committee:

Friday 15 April 2011 marks 20 years since the release of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC).  In 1991, the RCIADIC found that too many Aboriginal people were in  custody too often.  Little has changed.  The RCIADIC made 339 recommendations to address this problem.  To this day, only a fraction of the recommendations have been acted upon.  We must demand that more is done, now!
 The Aboriginal Legal Service of WA together  with the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of WA are holding a public event on Friday 15 April,  The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody:  20 years on - it's time for change!
  1. Please forward this email, the attached flyer, poster and the call for 269 volunteers to friends, family, co workers, students, community organisations, unions, churches, members of parliament, local councils...  Print out leaflets and hand them out, Put up posters, talk to people...

  2. Please consider registering as a volunteer and  encourage others to do the same.   At least 269 volunteers are needed to gather at the Stirling Gardens (cnr Barrack St & Georges Terrace, in front of the Supreme Court) on Friday 15 April at 11.30am for a 12 noon start. Each person will be given a cross to hold to represent the 269 Aboriginal deaths in custody in the 20 years since the release of RCIADIC. Once all volunteers have assembled we will then proceed to Parliament House with the crosses for a 12.30pm remembrance ceremony, which includes speakers and a media conference. 

  3. Volunteers to help make placards, banners and crosses for the event to meet on Saturday 9 April 20011.

To register as a volunteer, please go to click on Contact Details, complete your contact details in the message box type Volunteer and indicate whether your are available for the 9 April workshop and/or the actual event on 15 April 2011.  Alternatively you can register by calling/texting 0415074602, email  Please register by 14 April 2011.  

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ecosocialism Seminar Sun 3 April 2011

Eco-Socialism - What it is and what it means for activists today

The climate crisis, toxic production, pollution, over-fishing, biodiversity loss... These are only some of the acute environmental problems we face today.

The solutions to these problems cut against the profits-first character of the capitalist society in which we live.

This seminar will discuss: How can we move to a sustainable society and what will it look like? Do we have to abandon industrial society to save the environment? Are socialist solutions achievable? What is eco-socialism? Is "eco-socialism" different to "socialism"?

Guest speakers:
Sam Wainwight (Socialist Alliance)
Chris Jenkins (Resistance)

Sunday 3 April
12 noon - cheap lunch
1pm - free seminar

Perth Activist Centre (15/5 Aberdeen St, East Perth - next to McIver station)

Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638

Presented by Socialist Alliance and Resistance

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rally for democracy and freedom in Bahrain

By Chris Jenkins

A crowd of 200 people marched on the US consulate in the Perth CBD on Tuesday March 22 in protest after Saudi soldiers and police from the United Arab Emirates entered Bahrain territory to help suppress the democracy movement in Bahrain. The popular uprising threatens to follow the examples of Tunisia and Egypt and topple it's Western-backed authoritarian regime.

Chanting outside the US consulate, the protesters - many from the local Bahraini community - made clear the hypocrisy of the United States, whose self-projected image of being a champion of democracy and freedom in the world has left a long shadow of oppressive, despotic regimes amiable to the interests of US corporations.

With the fall of such friendly regimes as the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt, the Obama government is hard pressed to stabilise the Middle East and return the calm the world's oil giants need to continue plundering the wealth of the whole region. This has led to the US striving to deflect attention away from the invasion of Bahrain by Saudi Arabia, America's chief ally in the region and itself threatened by democratic rumblings that takes strength from the waves of people power gripping the region.

Never has US imperalism been so challenged in the Middle East. The message from Tuesday's rally was clear: it is the right of the Bahraini people to democratically determine their own lives, without the meddling of foreign interests whose conduct has left unpopular and outright oppressive regimes in power at home and abroad for decades. The more these foreign governments and corportate interests attempt to stifle this people's movement in Bahrain and elsewhere, the more determined we must be to see it succeed.

Protesters took a letter to the Consulate demanding of the US government:

"1) Condemnation of the Bahraini regime for the atrocities they committed against unarmed civilians.

"2) Use its influence in the gulf region to pressure the Saudi and Emirati governments to withdraw their forces from Bahrain, and to stop the massacre of Bahraini protesters seeking legitimate shifts to democracy in the region.

"3) Push the Bahraini Government to:
"i- Lift the current emergency state in the country.

"ii- Stop en mass imprisonment of protesters without charge

"iii- Free those already arrested since the beginning of the Bahraini peaceful uprising.

"iv- Listen to the demand of its people, and allow democratic changes to take place in a peaceful manner."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Refugee rights rally in solidarity with Christmas Island detainees

By Sarah Ross, Perth

Around 50 people gathered at Perth, Murray St Mall on Tuesday March 22 to participate in a speak-out called by the Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN) to protest in solidarity with the asylum seekers currently protesting at Christmas Island.

The action was called in response to the deteriorating conditions of the detention centres and the recent use of tear gas and rubber bullets against the Christmas Island protestors.

A variety of activist organisations were present at the speak-out. Members from each took rotational turns at addressing the commuting public - many of whom stopped to listen to the passionate speeches.

"Flashmob" to boycott Israeli Apartheid

"Seacret" is an Israeli cosmetics company that profits by pillaging the resources of the Dead Sea. This is to the environmental and economic detriment of Palestinians, who are not even permitted to walk its shores (even though much of the coastline is within the internationally recognised borders of Palestine).

Friends of Palestine WA has organised an action this weekend at the Seacret booth at Carousel Shopping Centre, (Albany Highway, Cannington).

Date: Saturday 26 March (end of Israel Apartheid Week)
Time: 2pm
Where: Seacret kiosk, Carousel Shopping Centre

This action has been organised by Friends of Palestine WA as part of the international campaign of "boycott, divestment and sanctions" against apartheid Israel. Recent successes of this campaign included the decision by Marrickville Council in NSW to support the BDS campaign (the first local government to do so) and the decision by Johannesburg University to effectively cut ties with Ben Gurion University in Israel (the first university in the world to do so).

For a video and report on the last FOPWA action at Seacret, click here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fremantle rally for human rights in Zimbabwe

Over forty people attended a Fremantle rally in support of Zimbabwean political activists who have been charged with treason on March 21.

The rally was held in association with international events coinciding with the court hearing in Harare for Munyaradzi Gwisai, Tafadzwa Choto, Hopewell Gumbo, Welcome Zimuto, Tatenda Mombeyara, Edson Chakuma.

“These brave men and women are charged with treason and face the death penalty,” Adele Carles, MLA for Fremantle, told the crowd. “While it is frustrating that we are so far away and it is difficult to influence these events directly, it is important that we speak out and shine the international spotlight on these human rights outrages.”

Carles announced that she had written to the Zimbabwean Ambassador to Australia strongly expressing her disappointment at the abuse of legal process and calling for the release of the prisoners. She called on all those present to sign the on-line Free the Zimbabwe Political Prisoners petition.

Zimbabwe Information Centre WA (ZICWA) coordinator Paul Kaplan called on the Australian government to maintain targeted sanctions against key leaders of the Mugabe regime. He also outlined Zimbabwe’s modern history and the evolution of Mugabe from a respected liberation leader to a corrupt tyrant.

Fremantle city councillor Sam Wainwright told the crowd that Mugabe’s misleadership began when he accepted the austerity dictates of the IMF. He said that one of the demands that people in rich countries like Australia should raise is for Zimbabwe’s national debt to be annulled.

Wainwright also reminded the crowd that Australia had once offered free university education to people from poor Commonwealth countries, but now overseas students are exploited as a cash cow by universities. He called on the Australian government to reverse this policy.

Zimbabwean exile, Toby, of the ZICWA, thanked the crowd for their support and pointed out that most Black Zimbabweans in Perth felt too afraid to attend the rally, fearing repercussions for the relatives at home.

Article by Barry Healy. Photo below from Fremantle Herald.

Monday, March 21, 2011

T-Shirts available from the Perth Activist Centre

People and Planet Before Profit Hands off WikiLeaks I support Equal Marriage

These shirts are among the many available at the Perth Activist Centre.

They are available for $20 each (or $25 including postage).

Please email or phone 9218 9608 or 0413 976 638 to make an order or for more information.

People and Planet Before Profit

Hands off WikiLeaks

I support Equal Marriage

Workers rally for local jobs from mining boom

[This article by Alex Bainbridge and Sarah Ross was written for Green Left Weekly #873.]

About 8000 people marched on the Western Australian parliament on March 15 to demand more local jobs from the resource export boom.

The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and Maritime Union of Australia all mobilised big contingents for the protest.

Manufacturing employers also supported the rally. Local workshops are sitting idle while billions of dollars of infrastructure is being imported for the mining and offshore oil and gas industries.

Unions called for supply contracts to go to WA companies. They drew inspiration from an agreement between Chevron and the Canadian provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador that requires all fabrication for its oil and gas project to be done there.

The rally slogan was, “WA jobs from WA resources: what can be made here, should be made here” and workers chanted “Our rocks, our gas, our jobs”.

Union officials, MPs and employers focused on how large-scale minerals and resources projects in the state had not boosted employment.

Socialist Alliance WA Convener Sam Wainwright told Green Left Weekly that the unions should demand social objectives in any local content agreements.

“We know that getting local content doesn’t stop a contract from going to the lowest paying local employer. We need guarantees around apprenticeship ratios, Indigenous employment and union access.

“The AMWU, ETU and MUA should be congratulated for securing work and training for Aboriginal communities where the state government has failed. This process should be a stepping stone to more public control and ownership over the resource industries.”

But there was also another dynamic. The status of 457 visa holders was not the focus of the rally, yet CFMEU WA secretary Kevin Reynolds accused Chinese migrant workers of undermining workplace conditions.

He blamed migrant workers’ substandard working conditions on the workers themselves, instead of putting the blame on exploitative bosses or government policies.

Wainwright said: “Any big expansion of local fabrication is going to require more migrant workers anyway, whether from interstate or overseas.

“Unions need to demand immediate permanent residency rights for foreign migrant workers instead of 457 visas, as well as join them to the union. That’s the only way to deal with that issue.”

Liberal Premier Colin Barnett also spoke. Incredibly he claimed, “There is no resources boom” and defended the record of his government, which places few conditions on the mining industry.

Unions have called for more rallies to press their “WA jobs from WA resources” campaign.

Five actions in 3 days: Zimbabwe, Bahrain, Ward rally, Christmas Island, Climate action

Five important actions are taking place over there days beginning this afternoon:

Free the political prisoners in Zimbabwe: 5pm Mon 21 March

Zimbabwean human rights activists were arrested on February 19 for showing a video about the democracy struggle in Egypt.

They have been charged with treason, which is a capital offense in Zimbabwe. 

International rallies calling for their freedom are being held to coincide with their court hearing.

Fremantle Speak Out for Freedom
Kings Square (next to Fremantle Town Hall)

Monday March 21, 5:00 pm

Speakers include:
Adele Carles (member for Fremantle), 
Sam Wainwright (Fremantle councillor),
Paul Kaplan (Zimbabwe Information Centre)

Organised by: Zimbabwe Information Centre (WA branch), Fremantle/Walyalup branch Socialist Alliance

Support Democracy and Freedom in Bahrain: 10:30am Tues 22 March

Local supporters of democracy and freedom in Bahrain have organised a protest for tomorrow:

Democracy and Freedom in Bahrain
10:30am, Tues 22 March

Gather: Stirling Gardens (cnr Barrack St & St Georges Terrace, Perth)
March: To US Consulate

Justice for Mr Ward - end the privatisation of prisoner transport: 12:30pm Tues 22 March

Petition presentation and rally to demand: termination of the G4S prison transport contract; and return to a public and accountable custodial transport service.

12:30pm Tues 22 March
Parliament House steps, Harvest Terrace, West Perth.
Organised by Deaths in Custody Watch Committee.


Refugee Rights - solidarity with protests in detention: 5pm Tues 22 March
5pm Tues 22 March
Murray Street Mall, Perth

Organised by Refugee Rights Action Network

Attend on Facebook:

Climate Action: 12noon Wed 23 March

This rally has been called in response to a climate denier/anti-carbon tax rally on the same day.

This rally has been called in support of the government's proposed emissions trading scheme. Socialist Alliance is encouraging people to attend this rally to show support for strong climate action including 100% renewable energy by 2020; more public transport, etc.

12 noon, Wed 23 March
Perth Convention Centre

Attend on Facebook:

Justice for Mr Ward - end the privatisation of prisoner transportation

Petition presentation and rally to demand: termination of the G4S prison transport contract; and return to a public and accountable custodial transport service.

12:30pm Tues 22 March
Parliament House steps, Harvest Terrace, West Perth.
Organised by Deaths in Custody Watch Committee.

MORE INFO: In January 2008, Aboriginal Elder Mr Ward died in custody from heat stroke in a van contracted out to the company G4S. In January 2011, WorkSafe charged G4S with failing to ensure the safety & health of Mr Ward, resulting in his death.
The Deaths In Custody Watch Committee believes the privatisation of prisoner transport must be ended. Mr Ward's death clearly and tragically showed that the privatisation of prisoner transportation leads to a lack of accountability and poor service delivery. Peoples’ lives need to be put before private profit!
Join the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (WA) in a lunchtime rally on the steps of Parliament House. Be there when we present our petition calling on the State Government to:
- terminate the G4S contract; and
- return custodial transport to the public service to make it accountable to the WA people and parliament.
For more information contact the Deaths In Custody Watch Committee (WA) Marianne Mackay 0401320047 or Paul Kaplan 0438949898 or visit

Support democracy and freedom in Bahrain

Local supporters of democracy and freedom in Bahrain have organised a protest for tomorrow:

Democracy and Freedom in Bahrain
10:30am, Tues 22 March

Gather: Stirling Gardens (cnr Barrack St & St Georges Terrace, Perth)
March: To US Consulate (16 St Georges Terrace, Perth)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Support the Libyan uprising but reject foreign military intervention

Statement issued by the Socialist Alliance national executive on 18 March 2011

The threat of military air strikes against Libya by Britain, France, the US and allies — now supported by a March 17 UN Security Council resolution — may or may not force the despotic Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi to stop using its armed forces against the rebel-held city of Benghazi in the short term.

However, it does pose grave dangers for the sovereignty of Libya and for the wave of democratic revolts that have swept the Arab world this year.

The Socialist Alliance is a strong and active supporter of this wave of democratic uprisings. We welcomed the uprising in Libya that began on February 17 and have helped organised actions in solidarity with this uprising — as we have with the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Yemen and Bahrain.

The Socialist Alliance has also consistently opposed and warned against the dangers of foreign intervention — especially from the governments of the rich and powerful nations in the West. These governments have long supported and propped up many dictatorial regimes in the Arab world.

We understand and sympathise with the desperation of the Libyan opposition — which was threatened by Gaddafi with a “merciless” attack on Benghazi, the second biggest city in Libya.

But we believe that if Western powers and their allies (including the Saudi monarchy now occupying Bahrain) begin a military intervention in Libya, this will threaten Libyan solidarity. It will weaken the democratic uprising politically and help rollback the wave of democratic uprisings across the Arab world.

Imperial military intervention in Libya may even help the despotic Gaddafi regime win some support within Libya and other less developed countries for being seen to stand up to the western interference.

Gaddafi has already tried to resume his previously discarded posture as a fighter against imperial aggression.

The governments of Britain, France, the US and other allies (including the Australian government) are not interested in the lives or liberty of the Libyan people. These powerful forces only seek to preserve their global privilege at the richest exploiters of the world.

If these powerful governments were serious in helping the Libyan people’s uprisings, they would have found ways a lot earlier to enable the freedom fighters to obtain the anti-aircraft and other weapon that would have helped them fight off the warplanes, helicopters and tanks of the pro-Gaddafi forces.

Instead, they waited until the rebels suffered a string of demoralising military defeats before presenting themselves as “saviours”.

The UNSC resolution calls on Member States “to take all necessary measures … to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamhariya, including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force.”

However, history has taught us that these governments of the world's richest exploiters can not be trusted to protect the people. They have always acted to further their own selfish interest as exploiter nations. For example, even though the UN has passed numerous resolutions on the right of Palestinians to self-determination, the UNSC has never once authorised force to be used against Israel for denying this right.

The Socialist Alliance opposes imperialist intervention into Libya. We call on the Australian government not to participate in this latest military adventure.

The Socialist Alliance believes the Libyan revolutionaries need solidarity. We support a campaign of international isolation of the Gaddafi regime, through the breaking of diplomatic ties with the Gaddafi regime and recognition of the rebel Interim Transitional National Council, and financial sanctions on leaders of the Gaddafi regime and its assets.

We also support immediate international aid (including military supplies without conditions) to the Libyan uprising.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Free the political prisoners in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean human rights activists were arrested on February 19 for showing a video about the democracy struggle in Egypt.

They have been charged with treason, which is a capital offense in Zimbabwe.

International rallies calling for their freedom are being held to coincide with their court hearing.

Fremantle Speak Out for Freedom
Kings Square (next to Fremantle Town Hall)

Monday March 21, 5:00 pm

Adele Carles (member for Fremantle),
Sam Wainwright (Fremantle councillor),
Paul Kaplan (Zimbabwe Information Centre)

Organised by: Zimbabwe Information Centre (WA branch), Fremantle/Walyalup branch Socialist Alliance

The Prisoners of Conscience

Tafadzwa Choto, a veteran of the struggle for equality and justice in Zimbabwe. She has been a key player in crucial democratic and social justice processes including constitutional reform, workers rights, women's rights and the right to health campaign.

Munyaradzi Gwisai is general coordinator of ISO(Z), a former Movement for Democratic Change MP and is a Law Lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. Gwisai has been a leading voice for workers rights and social justice in Zimbabwe since the late eighties when he led student protests against corruption and injustice. He is a dedicated defender of workers and the oppressed poor.

Hopewell Gumbo is a former President of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, Msavaya as he is affectionately known by many in the struggle for social justice and democracy in Zimbabwe, is a consistent fighter and great inspiration to generations of activists.

Welcome Zimuto is a key organiser and campaigner for the right to education and an advocate for democracy and human rights in the country. He is with the Zimbabwe National Students Union.

Tatenda Mombeyara is an organizer with the Zimbabwe Labor Center

Edson Chakuma. No personal information available

Sign the on-line petition here.

** Media release ** Media release ** Media release ** Media release **
Australian relative of imprisoned Zimbabwean calls for his release

March 11, 2011
An international campaign has won a partial victory for 45 social movement activists arrested on February 19 in Harare, Zimbabwe, for watching a video about the recent uprisings in Egypt.

Thirty-nine have had their charges dropped by the Harare Magistrates Court for lack of evidence and because the detentions resulted from what the court called “dragnet” arrests.

However, six activists remain in jail in appalling conditions, denied access to medical and legal help, and suffering torture to extract bogus confessions of plotting to overthrow the regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. The activists have been charged with treason and if found guilty, risk a sentence of death or life imprisonment.

Human rights supporters are pressuring the Zimbabwe government to release the activists and drop all the charges. They include retired Australian magistrate Anthony Bloemen , who is the father-in-law of one of the detainees, Munyaradzi Gwisai.

Gwisai is the director of the University of Zimbabwe’s Labor Law Centre and a former member of Zimbabwe’s parliament representing the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Bloemen says that Gwisai, together with other imprisoned activists, have been subjected to torture by the Zimbabwean authorities. The torture, he said, involved beatings all over the detainees’ bodies with broomsticks, metal rods and pieces of timber, aimed at securing confessions that would implicate them in the commission of treason. Gwisai said the pain was “indescribable, sadistic and a tragedy for Zimbabwe”.

The arrests, charges and torture have been condemned by, amongst others, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC - Zimbabwe), Amnesty International, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the Centre for Civil Society (South Africa).

The international campaign is calling for the immediate release of the activists, the dropping of all charges against them, and for the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression that are contained in Articles XII and XIX of the Global Political Agreement, signed by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in September 2008, be upheld.

For further comment, contact Anthony Bloemen on (08) 9192 5657.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rally for Equal Marriage Rights - 19 March 2011

We'd like to encourage you to come along to the next

1pm, Forrest Place, Murray St Mall Perth

Organised by Equal Love Perth

Guest Speakers:

Jade Eckhaus, Queer officer from the National Union of Students to host the event
Senator Rachel Siewert and Lynn MacLaren MLC, from the Greens federal and state

Kelly Shay from Unions WA a representative from the Cross-Campus Queer Network

PLUS, performances from the fabulous Swish Eveready and Rachel Discrimination!

So make sure Saturday March 19 is in your diary and keep inviting your friends and family.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Who's Afraid of Equal Marriage Rights?

Who's Afraid of Equal Marriage Rights?

Julia Gillard's ALP government is under huge pressure to end the current ban on same sex marriage. This forum will discuss Labor's opposition to change and the continued struggle challenging homophobia in Australia.

Thursday 17th of March @ 12pm
Social Sciences building room G.36

Contact Chris for more details 0415 922 740

Organised by UWA Resistance Club

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Photos from Perth International Women's Day rally

Perth International Women's Day march beginning in the Murray Street Mall with several stops before joining a Unions WA IWD gathering. Unfortunately the unions had refused to support the march, which nonetheless turned out to be the most inspiring part of the occasion. Tuesday March 8, 2011.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Seminar: Strategies for Social Change

Strategies for Social Change

Revolutionary developments and the toppling of dictators in the Arab are a reminder of the potent power of the people when focused on achieving social change.

But what about this country? Is fundamental social change possible here? How can we bring it about? And what is the most effective action we can take today to win a socially just and environmentally sustainable future?

Guest Speakers:
Chris Jenkins (Perth Resistance)
Kamala Emauel (Socialist Alliance)
1pm Sun 13 March
Perth Activist Centre, 15 / 5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver station)

Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638 for more info.

Organised by Socialist Alliance ( and Resistance ( All welcome.

Union jobs rally: Tues 15 March

Union & community march on parliament

11am, Tues 15 March 2011

Gather: cnr Barrack St & Riverside Drive, The Esplanade

More info:

Beyond Zero Emissions to launch 100% renewable plan in Perth

Monday 14 March
5.45pm for a 6pm start

Perth Town Hall
Corner Barrack and Hay St

Free entry

Perth launch of Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan
Come hear about this ground-breaking plan

Solar and wind can supply Australia’s energy needs within 10 years. This forum will discuss what steps need to be taken now to make it a reality.

> Designed by a broad coalition of engineers, academics, and industry experts
> Fully costed
> Uses proven, existing, renewable technologies
> Can be built within the next decade
> Zero carbon emissions

Matthew Wright (Executive Director, Beyond Zero Emissions)
Steve Gates (Chair, Sustainable Energy Now)
Scott Ludlam (Greens Senator for WA)
Alannah McTiernan (Former Wa Planning and Infrastructure Minister)
Andre Garnaut (Principle Sustainability Consultant, WorleyParsons)

Download A5 fliers
Download A3 or A4 posters

Broome residents rally against Gas Hub air pollution

Broome residents recently held a community action about air pollution concerns and called on the companies not to build the gas hub at James Price Point.

Check out the YouTube video:

The Wilderness Society has organised a meeting to discuss this issue on Wednesday 16 March.

When: Wed 16th March, 6.30pm
Where: Conference room, City West Lotteries House, 2 Delhi St, West Perth

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rally for Survival - say no to James Price Point gas hub!

8:30am, Monday 28th March
EPA office, 168 St Georges Terrace, Perth

After a summer of extreme weather events, now is the time to say: YES! to immediate strong action on climate change.

While politicians argue about how much to spend on disaster relief and who should pay, how to price carbon and how much to give away to the big polluters for their cooperation with tiny cuts to greenhouse pollution, global warming and climate change are on the move. 2010 was equal hottest year on record, with billions of trees dying of drought in the Amazon (with an estimated carbon dioxide release of 8 billion tonnes) and devastating floods in Pakistan, fires in Russia - not to mention the Australian floods and cyclones, due to a stronger than usual La Nina.

In rallies, vigils and marches around Australia this month, people will be calling for action for survival.

In Perth, we will rally in the city on the day submissions to the EPA on the James Price Point gas hub close, to show our opposition to it and other fossil fuel projects in WA, and calling for renewable energy and a phase-out of coal, oil and gas, to begin the emergency transition we need to a low/no carbon pollution economy.

For more info, call Kamala 0417 319 662 or email

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The National Ports Strategy: help or hindrance for the Highway to Hell?

The National Ports Strategy released in December 2010 by the National Transport Commission contains a lot of vital information for those concerned about the future of Fremantle. The document talks of nationally consistent environmental management, sustainable development, introduction of buffers to separate residents from Ports’ activities and clarity, transparency and accountability.

Its recommendations include some that could produce less polluting freight transport to and from the port and others that could produce a ten-lane truck sewer running continuously day in, day out pumping particulate pollution all over Fremantle.

The strategy speaks of “streamlined environmental impact approvals” for strategic freight corridors, organising freight traffic so that it runs “into off-peak and weekend periods” and establishing “a small independent panel…of people with significant prior private sector leadership experience inport and freight logistics…to oversee implementation of the strategy.”

The WA Department of Transport’s submission to the ports inquiry highlights its plans for reserving “enough land and protecting corridors in our metropolitan area for the future long-term demands of the container trades” – bureaucratese for its High Street/Stirling Highway truck paradise plans.

Fremantle residents cannot be complacent about this, thinking that a truck-only freight solution will never eventuate. In fact the DoT has already readied the amendment to the road reserve for the High Street/Stirling Highway section from Carrington Road to Stirling Bridge providing for eight lanes of roadway, with provision for ten lanes in the future. The amendment will go to Parliament soon.

The move of freight from rail to road is being accelerated by the Barnett government. The recent closure of country rail lines will add tens of thousands of truck movements to the road system.

Wheat, which of all products should be moved by bulk rail, is currently being trucked in shipping containers to Fremantle Port. This transport will explode under the Barnett government/DoT regime. The killing of the country rail network will reduce freight rail movements on the rest of the system, thus justifying shutting down the entire network.

Diesel particulate pollution is the great danger from the current strategy. Visible smog is not the greatest problem; trucks expel clouds of invisible micro particles, coated with carcinogens that bypass the body’s defence mechanisms delivering their deadly load deep into the lungs. The smallest particles can pass through the lungs and into the body.

The National Ports Strategy aims at producing a standardised approach to ports across Australia. Ports will be required to publish long-term plans for their development, which include the facilitation of trade in an unsubsidised manner.

The trucking industry is notoriously subsidised through its refusal to pay for maintaining the public roads it destroys. The WA Local Government Association pointed out in its submission to the Ports Inquiry that the 2007-08 estimated cost of keeping local roads in their current condition was $473.7 million. But local governments could only afford to spend $331.3 million. The time is coming,WALGA says “for a real road pricing debate”.

Residents of the Gibson Park precinct went through years of consultation with the DoT over plans to widen High Street. No sooner had the residents agreed to a DoT proposal (Option 4) then DoT started preparing its “Rolls Royse” plan, the semi-secret Option 5.

Option 5 would carve an enormous trench through area next to the existing High Street, tunnel under the High Street/Stirling Highway intersection and come to the surface as part of an eight lane super highway to Stirling Bridge.

This engineering monstrosity is estimated to cost around $150 million. The refurbishment of the entire WA country rail network would cost an estimated $90 million.

Luckily, there are aspects of the National Ports Strategy that Fremantle residents can use toprotect our community. For example, the 30 year plan required of Fremantle Ports Authority will have to “embody a sustainable development agenda, that addresses the need for major new developments to have a social licence to operate”. Moreover, the plan will be required to be placed within the Fremantle city plan.

What is needed immediately in Fremantle is for all our public representatives to put themselves on record as opposing the DoT’s Option 5 plans for massively expanding truck movements to and from our port. Adele Carles must commit herself to opposing the DoT’s road reserve amendment when it gets tabled in Parliament and she and the Greens must lead the charge in exposing the DoT’s plans.

The entire Fremantle council, no matter their political alignment must mobilise all the resources of the council to push for the only rational solution to freight transport: getting as much as possible onto rail. Melissa Parke must intervene at the federal level, given that the strategy is a federal ALP project, to demand that residents’ needs be protected.

The National Ports Strategy is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get things right for Fremantle Port. If residents don’t seize the chance the Department of Transport, the Barnett government and “a small independent panel…of people with significant prior private sector leadership experience in port and freight logistics” will use the provisions for declaring the High Street/Stirling Highway a strategic route to ride straight over the top of residents and build the Highway to Hell.

[This article by Fremantle Socialist Alliance member Barry Healy was first published by the Fremantle Herald on 26 February 2011. Barry Healy is a resident of Holland Street, Fremantle and has been studying the effects of particulate pollution for many years.]

Monday, March 7, 2011

One hundred years of International Women’s Day

This month, women’s rights campaigners around Australia and the world will celebrate the 100th International Women’s Day.

There could be no more fitting testament to the meaning of IWD than the words of one of the thousands of Egyptian women who joined the democracy protests in Liberation Square in Cairo last month. The people’s struggle to be rid of dictatorHosni Mubarak, she said, is also a struggle for women’s rights: "[Before] we had nothing, now I guess we will take everything."

IWD was born in a time of great social turbulence and massive struggles by ordinary people for a better life.  In 1909, a strike of 30,000 garment workers in the United States, mainly migrant women, almost shut down the garment industry. It lasted for three months and won the right to organise and bargain collectively, and improved wages and working conditions.

The next year, in 1910, women from 17 countries met at the International Conference of Socialist Working Women in Copenhagen and decided to organise an International Working Women's Day to mark the garment workers’ victory, and provide a focus for women around the world to campaign for the right to vote.

The first IWD rally in Australia was held in 1928, organised by the Militant Women's Movement. It demanded an eight-hour day, equal pay for equal work, paid annual leave and a living wage for the unemployed.

The last century of successful campaigns - for women’s right to vote, attend university and do paid work, for example - has given many women much to celebrate. But for the overwhelming majority of women in Australia, and even more so in the rest of the world, the demands of the first IWD have yet to be met. In fact, under the neo-liberal policies imposed by global capitalism since the 1980s – the attacks on wages and working conditions, welfare support for the elderly, disabled, unemployed and sole parents, affordable accommodation, and public education and health care - the IWD demands are becoming further out of reach for most women, especially poorer women, Indigenous women and migrant women.

Equal pay – long overdue

A major national focus for this year’s IWD is women’s right to equal pay.

Equal pay was first awarded by law to women in Australia in 1972. After almost 40 years, however - and even as some women become governor-generals and prime ministers - not only is equal pay far from a reality, but the gender pay gap is widening.

There are more women in the workforce and as the main family breadwinner than ever before. Yet, on average, full-time women workers earn 18% less than men: that’s 65 extra days each year that women would have to work to take home the same pay as men.

In some industries the gap is as large as 30%, and when you take into account part-time and casual work (women workers comprise about two-thirds of casual workers, three-quarters of whom are also part-time), the total gap is actually around 35%. Over a lifetime, that gap compounds into a big impact on women’s earnings and lives.
Almost without exception, workplaces with a high proportion of female employees have lower rates of pay. The advent of enterprise bargaining (which has reduced awards to mere “safety nets” for workers without bargaining power in the workplace — especially women) and the move to more individual contracts has severely disadvantaged women workers who are concentrated in less organised sectors.

To help turn this around, the Socialist Alliance is actively involved in efforts to rebuild a fighting trade union movement, and in campaigns for equal pay - such as the Australian Services Union’s current campaign. We also campaign for:
·         12 months' parenting leave fully paid by employer contributions to a publicly managed scheme.
·         Programs to address the under-representation of women in traditionally male occupations.
·         Governments and/or employers to provide free, 24-hour childcare and holiday care centres.
·         An increase in the minimum wage.
·         All improvements in wages and working conditions to be automatically generalised across each industry.
·         The extension of full-time and permanent employee entitlements to all part-time and casual workers.
·         The enforcement of anti-discrimination and affirmative action legislation to assist Indigenous women, non-English speaking background women and disabled women to be economically independent.
·         A living wage - which enables a decent quality of life, not just survival - for all welfare recipients and their dependents, and automatic indexation of all welfare benefits.

Women’s right to choose – abolish 19th century laws! 

Alongside economic independence, one of the biggest factors in determining women’s quality of life is the ability to decide whether and when to bear children. Yet this basic human right is still governed in Australia by centuries-old laws that are completely out of step with public opinion and practices. The fact that in most states anyone who has an abortion or assists a woman with one can still be jailed is ridiculous when, for the last decade at least, surveys have repeatedly shown that the majority of people support women’s right to choose.

Women always have and always will have abortions regardless of the law-makers’ decrees, but wherever abortion remains illegal, women – in particular poorer and younger women – will be subjected to unnecessary physically and emotional suffering. The refusal of state governments – shamefully led in NSW and Queensland by women – to remove abortion from the 19th century Crimes Acts is undemocratic and cruel, and must be reversed.

The Socialist Alliance campaigns for:
·         The removal of abortion from all Crimes Acts and Health Acts – there is no reason for the state to treat abortion any differently from any other simple medical procedure.
·         Abortion to be available safely, free of charge and immediately on request through the public health-care system.

Equal marriage rights in 2011 

All people have the right to marry regardless of gender or sexual orientation. This is recognised by the majority of people in Australia, with more than 60% supporting equal marriage rights. Despite this, the 2004 federal ban on same-sex marriage remains in place.

The campaign to overturn the ban is, however, getting stronger each day, and at a state level bills have recently been or will soon be introduced into the Tasmanian, South Australian, NSW and Victorian parliament to make same-sex marriage legal.

The Socialist Alliance is very involved in the campaigns for state and federal marriage equality bills, and calls for these to also include trans, intersex, and sex and gender diverse marriage rights.

Don’t just get angry, get involved

All issues are women’s issues, and every achievement in campaigns against racism, or imperialist war, or poverty, or any form of exploitation and injustice is a step forward for women’s rights.

In a world racked by war, global warming and inequality, the only really viable future for women – and all of humanity - is to struggle now to create a world based on peace, real democracy, social justice, and respect and care for the planet. The Socialist Alliance believes such a future is possible – and necessary – and is active in many communities and campaigns to help achieve that goal.

To find out more and get involved visit: